Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dewey Readathon Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon has come and gone. After my last update, I spent about three hours cheering and responding to comments on my blog, then tried to read. Unfortunately, I was super tired. I sat down and the next thing I knew, it was 5:30 a.m. and I was literally waking up with my face in a book.

In other words, I did not complete my Readathon goal of finishing The Bookseller.

sad face

Anyway. Here's the end-of-event meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you?
The hour I fell asleep, I suppose.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I think The Bookseller would be a great choice. It's very fast-paced, not boring at all, and it's a book about books!

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Andi and Heather did a great job this year! I think someone should make badges for people who actually last the full 24 hours, that's amazing.

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
For me, myself, and I, I'm glad I started the day off with a solid 2 hours of reading instead of perusing mini challenges and visiting blogs like I usually do. It made me feel like I was accomplishing something right off the bat.

After the last update, I drank 2 glasses of champagne, 2 martinis, and ate a piece of baguette.

TV watched?
Orphan Black, The History of Science Fiction, and Matthew Bourne's production of Sleeping Beauty (which you would think would be really easy to ignore while reading, but in fact isn't).

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
Pay attention to which blogs have a lot of x's next to them on the spreadsheet. lol

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I probably won't be able to participate next time because I'll be working. But we'll see! I might try to do half a Readathon (or take the day off, haha).

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Readathon Mid-Event Update

Hey hey. It's about the halfway point in the Readathon (for me), and I figure it's time for an update.

Books so far: Still reading The Bookseller. I'm almost done, though! Really!

Pages read: Like 150-ish. I can't believe it takes me an hour to get through 25 pages now. I have no idea how I read 2-4 books a week in high school and college.

Audiobook time: About 20 minutes.

Interruptions: My mom convinced me to go shopping with her. Minus driving time, that took about 2 hours.

Number of puppy puddles I've stepped in today: 1, predictably just after I'd gotten out of the shower.

Puppy battle.

Cheering: I was going to cheer this afternoon, but I went shopping with my mom instead. So I'm going to cheer for about 2 hours just as soon as I finish this update.

Consumables: 1 glass of iced tea, leftover fettuccine alfredo, several pieces of cheese, a half soup and sandwich from Panera, a glass of champagne (in progress).

Now on to cheering!

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Readathon Start Meme

Hi there. I got a much later start on the Readathon than planned, thanks to a night of insomnia. Cramps (I know, TMI, but it happened), plus for some reason I kept startling awake for no reason whenever I began nodding off. I'm so tired I am VOLUNTARILY wearing my eye glasses instead of contacts. But I'm still ready to participate in the Readathon!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Colorado, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to finishing the book I'm reading now, quite frankly.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Hmm, I'm looking forward to cracking open that bottle of champagne later tonight.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
My parents just got two puppies! Stay tuned for pics.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I'm going to cheer today. Cheering is always something I thought about doing, but never did. I can't wait to visit Team Butler's blogs!

Since I did read into the wee hours of the morning last night, I'm just going to count that as part of my Readathon (if you all don't mind) and do a status update right off the bat.

Books started so far: 1, the Game of Thrones graphic novel. My brother loaned it to me after I went into his room to bother him at 4:30 in the morning (he makes me look like a morning person).

Books finished so far: 0

Currently reading: The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

Do I like it? It's pretty good, actually. Good story, but the incredible coincidences are a little ott. But the main character actually believes in coincidences! smh

Pages read: 50-ish.

Consumables: Toast and coffee.

Okay, off to read for a bit before cheering. I will check in with you guys later!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Time for the Readathon!

24 readathon button

This Saturday is Dewey's Readathon, what I like to think of as the Superbowl for bibliophiles. The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is read until your eyes bleed, bitches. Since I wasn't able to join in for the last Readathon, and probably won't be able to for the next one, I decided I needed to do it this time around even though I'm woefully unprepared. Missing one Readathon really threw me off my Readathon game, it feels like.

Book stack:
I really never manage to read a lot during the Readathon (ironically enough), so my book stack is pretty modest. I plan to finish The Bookseller by Mark Pryor. If that happens, I might dig into a Laura Florand novel or an ARC of the next Craig Johnson novel. I also have Jane, the Fox, and Me if my concentration goes all to hell.

In audiobooks, I'll be working on The Port of Missing Men even though I'm not that into/kind of starting to hate it.

Food and drink:
Just like with the Superbowl, food and drink is a big part of the Readathon. This will probably shock you, but I have plenty of alcohol around for the Readathon. I have a new champagne I want to try, some new beer that I got (purely for research purposes of course), and the basic ingredients for margaritas and other very reader-y cocktails. Question: what's the most literary cocktail? I should make that. Oh, I also made cold brewed iced tea.

As for food... cold pizza? Popcorn? Maybe someone will feed me.

This year I decided to be a cheerleader for the first time! I'm excited.

Game plan:
My plan is to wake up whenever I want (so, late), chillax while I have my breakfast, and then start reading late morning. Early afternoon I'm going to cheer, then go back to reading with a break for TV and dinner in the evenink.

I really don't see myself finishing a whole a book, but we'll see! As Amy Poehler says, lower your expectations.

amy poehler lower your expectations

And with that cheerful thought, good luck to everyone on this Readathon!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: THE CHOCOLATE THIEF by Laura Florand

chocolate thief cover

Cade Corey, the heir apparent to the multi-billion dollar business Corey Chocolate, dreams of creating the type of gourmet specialty chocolates that are made by the master chocolatiers of Paris. In particular, she's obsessed with the best chocolatier (according to the mayor and several influential critics), Sylvain Marquis. Unfortunately, Sylvain thinks her business offer is a joke and sneers her out of his salon. So Cade decides if she can't buy what she wants, she'll just have to steal it.

As you should all know by now, I loooooooved The Chocolate Touch. I didn't think The Chocolate Thief was as good as The Chocolate Touch, but it was still enjoyable.

Going into this book, I was worried it would be formulaic. Like with Glenna Finley—my mom has about 20 of her novels, all of which I read over the course of one summer, and if you've read one you've pretty much read them all. Fortunately for all of us, Laura Florand isn't Glenna Finley. While The Chocolate Thief does have the same charming, fairy tale atmosphere as The Chocolate Touch, it doesn't follow a specific fairy tale (or if it does it's not one I'm not familiar with), and both Sylvain and Cade are quite different, personality-wise, from Jaime and Dom. While The Chocolate Touch was an emotional story about trust and perception and healing, The Chocolate Thief is a coming-of-age journey. Cade has to come to terms with what she wants versus what's expected of her.

The Paris of The Chocolate Thief is also different from the one in The Chocolate Touch—more the Paris of the American tourist. Unlike Jolie, Cade hasn't spent months in the city by the time the story starts, and she has to adjust her romantic expectations of Paris with the reality, particularly the quirks of French culture that don't make sense to Americans. For example, why is it so difficult to get a French person to give out information? It's like pulling teeth sometimes. I just don't understand. Also: French showers are crazy.

My favorite culture clash scene was when Cade went to a cafe with a food blogger and tried to order milk and they refused to serve it to her, even though a cafe would obviously have milk. When she asks the food blogger (flogger?) why, he's just like, "I think he probably just doesn't want to give Americans ideas. You people are always asking for milk in caf├ęs, and once you let someone get away with something like that, who knows where it might lead?" INDEED. I also liked Sylvain's point of view and how he's just like, "What is wrong with you Americans? Don't you know how to eat/drink/live/etc?" Apparently not.

Anyway. The main reason I didn't like The Chocolate Thief as much as The Chocolate Touch was because the story wasn't quite as strong. Things don't start to get really interesting until Cade decides to break into Sylvain's salon, and by then we're nearly halfway through the book! (Although I did love that everyone's reaction on hearing about this chocolate thief was, "That's hot," instead of total outrage. And that she turned into a chocolate Robin Hood.) The novel was also a tad episodic, with more of a chick lit sensibility than a romantic one. Chick lit is not my favorite genre.

Stilllllll, The Chocolate Thief is delightful and definitely a book you want to read if you're a foodie. Also, the sex scenes were really hot (just in case you wanted to know) and the ending with Sylvain's family party was really sweet. I highly recommend Florand's books!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Movie Review: FROZEN

Originally released: 2013
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Directed by: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Based on: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Elsa and Anna are princesses in the northern kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa is cursed with the ability to create snow and ice, and one night she snaps, sending Arendelle into a deep freeze. Frightened, she scampers into the wild, only to have her sister, a wandering mountain man named Kristoff, and an adorable snowman chase after her to get her to melt the ice... around our hearts.

frozen movie poster

Here comes Tasha to hate on everyone's favorite movie. WHOMP WHOMP. Okay, I didn't hate it, I just thought it was really awful.

First of all, the script is an absolute mess. This movie has a ten-minute prologue. Normally prologues in movies don't bother me quite as badly as they do in books, but in this case the prologue told us information we could have figured out in three seconds without it! Completely unnecessary. Also, who is the protagonist of this movie? I was hoping it was going to be Elsa, but then it turned out to be Anna. The spunky redhead is the heroine—wow, I've never seen that before.

An even more pressing question is who is the villain of movie. Alfred Hitchcock once said that you can't have a great movie without a great villain, and if you think of the great Disney films that's borne out. Maleficent, Ursula, the Evil Queen and Gaston were all great villains in their way. Frozen not only doesn't have a great villain, THERE IS NO VILLAIN. Rightfully Elsa should be the antagonist, since it's her who's causing the problem the "heroine" (I kind of refuse to call her that) is trying to stop. But the directors spent too much time trying to make Elsa sympathetic. Not that I'm against a villain turning out to be a sympathetic character who's just trying to do the right thing, of course; but in order for me to care about that message, the character in the question has to actually start out as a baddy. In Frozen, we know from the start Elsa's thisclose to actually being the heroine of the movie, so it's impossible to buy into her as an antagonist or feel as if she poses any threat.

I also thought the music was really annoying. It seemed like throw-away music, honestly. Like the songs that were rejected for The Lion King and repurposed with the keywords frozen, cold, and snow. "Fixer Upper" in particular was enough to drive me to drink. Fortunately I had plenty of gin on hand or I wouldn't have lasted half an hour with this movie.

Yes, Olaf and Sven were cute and funny. But you know where else I can find cute, funny animal sidekicks? ANY OTHER ANIMATED MOVIE.

As for the twist at the end... EYE ROLL. Not only do I find the concept kiiiiiiiiiind of really unlikely, but I also thought the way it played out was incredibly lame. It makes no sense in the context of the story. If this was the directors' idea of creating independent female characters I would like to throw myself off a cliff now, thanks.

Basically, I thought Frozen was poorly-written, ill-conceived, and probably one of the worst Disney cartoons I've ever seen in my entire life, second only to The Brave Little Toaster.

Actually, now that I've written this post, I've realized that I lied earlier. I do hate this movie. WHOMP WHOMP AGAIN.

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